CREW Requests DOJ Investigation Into Illegal Lobbying By Former Member Of Congress John Thune (R-SD)
Washington, DC, -- Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft requesting an investigation into whether former Congressman John Thune violated a federal criminal statute that prohibits Members of Congress from lobbying their former colleagues for one year after they leave the Congress. Penalties include up to five years in jail as well as steep fines.
CREW's request for an investigation is based on a lobbying disclosure form filed by Mr. Thune's former firm, Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn. The form indicates that Mr. Thune lobbied Congress on behalf of Laserscope, Inc., a medical laser systems supplier, during last year's Medicare debate.
A spokesman for Mr. Thune claimed that Mr. Thune lobbied only the executive branch, not the Congress. He further asserted that the disclosure forms provide no space to indicate that a lobbyis contacted only one branch of government. Contrary to that assertion, in a disclosure form filed on behalf of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturer's Association, the words "executive branch only" are included in parentheses next to Mr. Thune's name.
Melanie Sloan, CREW's Executive Director and a former prosecutor, stated, "The lobbying disclosure forms filed on behalf of Laserscope clearly indicate that Mr. Thune lobbied Congress in violation of federal criminal law. A grand jury investigation would be appropriate to determine the full extent of Mr. Thune's lobbying efforts on behalf of Laserscope." "Moreover," Sloan continued, " if Mr. Thune violated the law by lobbying Congress on behalf of this company, the question arises as to whether he also illegally lobbied on behalf of other clients. This is another question appropriate for consideration by the grand jury."
CREW requested that the Attorney General forward the matter to the Public Integrity Section for investigation and stated, "The Department of Justice has been ignoring serious ethics law violations for too long. It is past time for our nation's leading law enforcement officer to start enforcing these laws and provide the American people with greater confidence in the ethics of those at the highest levels of government."